COVID-19 relief options and additional resources
LEARN MORE Close

Maximize Cash Flow in Your Business

By bridgetwpollack, Guest Blogger
Published: May 30, 2014 Updated: May 30, 2014

We’ve finally turned the corner on tax season and as a small business owner you may be thinking, if we made that much in sales last year, where did it all go? and How will we hang on until this year’s busy season is in full swing? If you’ve had thoughts like these you are certainly not alone. As if running a small business weren’t hard enough, seasonality makes it even tougher. Use the following advice from financial experts to help you plan ahead for the inevitable ebbs and flows of cash.

Avoid the Cash Flow Pitfalls

To start off, learn from your mistakes (and those of others) and get a map for the bumps in the road ahead. Nathan DauSchmidt, COO of Bankmybiz.com, highlights 7 opportunities seasonal small businesses should take advantage of to ease the strain of cyclical cash flow. Nathan says, “One of the only benefits of having a slow-season is that you have more time to work on business development.” Take this time to negotiate with vendors, plan ahead, try alternative funding methods and even “leverage your future revenue.” How? Read Nathan’s full blog post, “7 Cash Flow Pitfalls of Seasonal Businesses” to learn all 7 tips for staying afloat.

Get Comfortable with Financial Management Basics

Lou Davenport, a long-time SCORE mentor who’s helped hundreds of small business owners succeed through sound financial management, says, “By learning basic financial management skills, you can learn what the numbers mean, why they’re important, and what you should do about them.”

To investigate why last year’s revenues may have looked drastically different from last year’s profits, Lou says to keep tabs on the most important financial statistic: Gross Profit Margin as a Percentage of Sales. He explains why this metric is so critical: “1. Sales alone aren’t real money. You can’t pay expenses with them. 2. If the standard for your industry is 40% and you’re only at 30%, you have a serious problem. You’re either pricing poorly, making inaccurate cost estimates or working inefficiently.”

Gain even more of Lou’s firsthand knowledge on cash flow and financial analysis by reading his recent ExpertAnswers interview. And if you’ve been curious about how a SCORE mentor can help get your financial management in order, Lou also describes specific ways he and other mentors guide small businesses to success.

Strategize for Next Tax Season

Finally, though you’re just catching your breath from this tax season, it’s the perfect time to plan ahead for the next one.

Dominique Molina, President of the American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches,returned to SCORE this tax season to present her popular, info-packed webinar updated with info for 2014: “Instant Tax Relief - Last Minute Tax Strategies for Business Owners.” Listen in from the comfort of your headphones to learn tips to pay less business tax, including:

  • Taking advantage of home office deductions you don’t know about like an “on-premises employee athletic facility” (aka swimming pool)

  • Properly accounting for auto and healthcare expenses

  • Choosing the right business entity

  • Employing family members including young children

Cash flow can make or break your business; one of the most common reasons small businesses fail is because they run out of money. Keep your business on track, no matter the season, by knowing your financial status, planning ahead, and taking the experts’ advice. At the low cost of free, working with a SCORE mentor is a great way to accomplish all 3 of these tasks without spending a single dime.

About the Author:

bridgetwpollack
Bridget Weston Pollack

Guest Blogger

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.

5 Simple Steps for Better Management

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: May 28, 2014

Good news: Here's a simple process, five easy steps, to improve your business. It's easy to do. And, if you're not doing something like this already, then this simple addition to your process offers you substantial business improvement.

Step 1: Visualize your main story

Take a step back for the business and visualize the main business story. Imagine the ideal customer, what they want from your business, how they find you, and how what you do matches your business' unique qualities and what that specific person wants.

Don't make this hard. Don't sweat the details. You don't even have to write it down, although writing down a few key bullet points can be really valuable for reminding yourself and others, later, about strategy.

Do make it strategic. Strategy is focus, so it's a lot about what you don't do and who isn't in your market. Real business strategy has three elements mixed together: identity, which is what's unique about your business; target market, which you want to define strategically; and business offering, which should also be strategic. Who isn't in your market is as important as who is. What you aren't doing is also important. For example, if your restaurant is about a quiet, leisurely, gourmet dining experience, don't offer take-out or drive-though, and don't have kids eat free.

Step 2: Identify your main assumptions

Don't make this one hard either. Take a step back from the business for a moment, and think about the assumptions you make all the time. Are you assuming a healthy economy, for example, or strong regional growth, or good weather for growing lemons? List these key assumptions. Don't go into too much detail; you'll run into diminishing returns. What you want is a good list to help with regular review and revision (my step 5 below).

Step 3: Set your milestones and performance metrics

Milestones have to do with dates, deadlines, and specific task responsibilities. You write these down for yourself and, if you have a team, for your team members. You don't really get accountability into the business without writing down and agreeing on what's supposed to happen, when, and who is supposed to do it.

Even if you're running your own business entirely by yourself, you still list milestones so you can track progress later. I've learned the hard way on this one, both in my one-person consulting business that I ran for 14 years, and for the 50-person product business it became. If we don't write our intentions down, we lie to ourselves later about what we thought we were going to do. I hope that's just me and not you; but I doubt it.

Performance metrics add backbone and accountability. Some are about basic business performance including sales, direct costs and expenses. But many others are also valuable. For example, leads, website visitors, traffic, meals served, trainings, trips, conversion rates, orders, presentations, incoming calls, minutes per call and so forth. These key performance metrics help you stay on top of the pulse of your business.

Step 4: You need to manage your business cash

Profits alone don't guarantee cash. For example, you can be profitable, but have too much cash tied up in accounts receivable, or inventory, so you end up without enough money to make payroll or cover necessary expenses. To manage cash, you need to project sales, direct costs, expenses, extra spending (for loan repayment or buying assets and such) and extra income (from borrowing, bringing in new investment, or selling assets and so forth).

On this one too, don't try to accurately predict the future. Instead, try to lay out how sales, costs and expenses relate to each other, so later when sales are different from expectations, you have an easy time of identifying the related changes you need to expect in direct costs and make in expenses. Think of what drives sales, such as pricing, marketing expenses, traffic, conversions, leads, pipelines and so forth. And don't go into too much detail because, as with assumptions above, you'll run into diminishing returns if you do. For example, a restaurant shouldn't project sales for every menu item, but summarize and aggregate for dinners, lunches, drinks and other. And a bookstore doesn't project sales by title or author or subject, normally, but rather hard over, soft cover, magazines and other. Keep your categories manageable.

Step 5: Review, revise, repeat

Set a specific day of the month, such as every third Thursday of the month, to review results and revise as necessary. If you're working with others, make sure they know about this regular monthly meeting and miss it only when they have to miss it for good business reasons.

Start your review meeting with your list of assumptions. Identify whether assumptions have changed, and how, and what that means for your business.

Include a review of milestones for the past month, including whether or not expected milestones were reached. Then look at milestones for the next month, to review expectations and compare the milestones with the underlying assumptions.

Finally, review performance metrics. Track and manage the difference between actual performance and established expectations.

And now, lo and behold, you have a business plan

I didn't use the words "business plan" in the title or first paragraph because I don't want you to dismiss it because of the myth of the formal business plan document. Too many business owners read the words "business plan" and dismiss the idea, thinking of some hard-to-do term-paper-like formal document that they don't need unless they are applying for commercial credit, seeking investment, or dealing with issues like selling the business or managing a divorce settlement.

The real business plan, however, is as simple as these five steps. You keep this business plan fresh and up to date and it optimizes management of your company. And when you do need a formal plan, you take this real business plan and dress it up with more description and explanations for outsiders, and print it as a formal business plan document.

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, 'Lean Business Planning,' 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .

4 Perks of Being a Subcontractor

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: May 28, 2014 Updated: September 23, 2016

If you’re interested in adding the government to your list of clients – but want to get your feet wet first – consider subcontracting. As a subcontractor, you can perform part of the work on another business’ contract (of the ‘prime’ contractor) without dealing directly with the government. Here’s a look at some of the perks.

  1. Fewer administrative obligations

In general as a subcontractor, you won’t have to deal with the government directly – that’ll be up to the prime contractor, who interfaces with contracting officer within a particular agency. The administrative responsibility you’ll bear rests in the agreement or contract between you and the prime contractor.

  1. Lower business development costs

Another big benefit of subcontracting is the lowered cost of doing business development (BD). Someone else is taking care of capture management – identifying and assessing potential opportunities with the government and outlining the approach to go after them. There’s also costs offset for proposal development, marketing, etc. by working with a prime.

  1. Getting more work

If you offer a specialized service that can be applied broadly as a small piece of another larger project, it’s a great way to gain experience and work that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. Many government contracts have various needs and required skills, so you can benefit by potentially earning more work across a range of contracts that need your specific service (e.g, marketing an online tool built by a large prime IT company).

  1. Gaining past performance

Working with partners – the prime contractors – will allow you to gain past performance that you might not be able to gain elsewhere because they've already developed relationships. Building up your past performance is like a track record to use when you go after future work. The longer a positive record, the better chance you’ll have at winning work.

This is just a handful of benefits to being a subcontractor.

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

V-WISE Invites Female Veterans and Military Spouses to Pursue Their Dreams of Entrepreneurship

By Barbara Carson, SBA Official
Published: May 22, 2014 Updated: May 22, 2014

Next month Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) will host 200 female veterans and military spouses at a three-day conference to realize their goals of business ownership through education and training.  The event, V-WISE’s 10th annual conference, will be hosted by the Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University June 13-15 in New York City with support from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  

V-WISE is committed to women veterans by providing them the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs.  The weekend conference will include a variety of essential business sessions such as Marketing 101, Business Law, discussion panels, female-entrepreneur guest speakers, as well as counseling and networking opportunities.

The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners reported that 4.4 percent of veteran business owners are women.  That number has risen significantly since 2008 as more and more women veterans are becoming entrepreneurs. 

V-WISE graduate and former U.S. Air Force C130 pilot Kristina Guerrero encourages women to participate in the program.  “The best thing a female veteran can do is to acknowledge that she’s a veteran.  Be proud of what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished. There are resources available… take advantage of them.” 

To learn more about or apply to the V-WISE program, visit http://vets.syr.edu/education/v-wise.

About the Author:

Barbara Carson
Barbara Carson

SBA Official

Barbara Carson is the Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development.

5 Traps in Paying Estimated Taxes

By BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger
Published: May 22, 2014

Having business income but being unable to cover anticipated taxes on the income through wage withholding means you’ll have to pay estimated taxes. You’ll have to project what you think you’ll owe for the year and then pay them in four installments to the government. If you underpay, you can be subject to penalties. If you overpay, you’ll effectively have made an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam and will have to file your return after the close of the year to recoup the excess tax payments. Unlike withholding on taxable compensation, which is regimented by IRS tables and up to employers to deposit their withholding, it’s entirely up to you to figure your estimated taxes and pay it to the government. Here are five potential pitfalls that can cause you trouble and money when paying estimated taxes—and what to do to avoid problems.

  1. Failing to have cash on hand

One of the greatest challenges for many small business owners is having the money ready when the dates for estimated taxes roll around. Adopting a payment strategy can help:

  • Make monthly payments even though you’re not required to do so this frequently. It may be more manageable to handle smaller payments each month rather than larger payments on the less frequent usual payment due dates.
  • Set aside funds in a separate account for estimated taxes. Don’t touch the funds for other purposes, no matter how tempting.
  • Explore wage withholding options. For example, if you have an S corporation, you can increase withholding on taxable compensation to cover what you expect to owe on your share of corporate profits (there will, of course, be withholding on your salary and other taxable benefits). Note: When starting a business, it may be worth considering becoming an S corporation rather than a limited liability company because of the ability to use wage withholding for tax payments.
  1. Not covering all tax obligations

In addition to factoring in taxes on net earnings from self-employment, include S corporation owners’ shares of their business profits, taxable compensation from being an employee (although there usually is income tax withholding on this compensation), and other reportable income for accurately estimating taxes.  Estimated taxes also cover:

  • Self-employment tax to cover Social Security and Medicare taxes on net earnings from self-employment (profits in a sole proprietorship and a partner’s distributive share of partnership profits)
  • Additional Medicare tax on earned income (employers must withhold this tax on taxable compensation over $200,000, but self-employed individuals must address this tax themselves)
  • Additional Medicare tax on net investment income. Income from businesses in which you materially participate is not subject to this tax, but your business income can boost your modified adjusted gross income, triggering or increasing the tax on your other investment income.
  1. Believing each quarterly payment falls evenly

While estimated taxes are referred to as quarterly payments, they do not fall evenly throughout the year. The due dates for 2014 estimated taxes are:

  • April 15, 2014 (for income received from January 1, 2014, through March 31, 2014)
  • June 16, 2014 (for income received from April 1, 2014, through May 31, 2014)
  • September 15, 2014 (for income received from June 1, 2014, through August 31, 2014)
  • January 15, 2015 (for income received from September 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014)

Thus, there are only two months between the first and second required payments. Set aside sufficient funds for each required installment.

  1. Paying too much, too early

It’s not unusual for income of small business owners to vary—sometimes greatly—throughout the year. The IRS gives this example: A shop owner at a marina receives sizable income in the summer but not so much at other times of the year. If you are like this shop owner, you avoid incurring estimated tax penalties by using the annualized income installment method. Under this method, installments in one or more payment period may be less than one-fourth of required annual payments. Details about the annualized income installment method are in IRS Publication 505.

  1. Reporting the payment under the Social Security number of the wrong spouse

If you’re paying estimated taxes under your Social Security number through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System but your spouse is listed first on your tax return, this can delay a refund or cause greater scrutiny of your tax return. The reason: IRS computers only apply automatically estimated taxes paid under the Social Security number of the first spouse on the return. The IRS must manually look further into estimated tax payments if they don’t match up. You can address this problem in three ways:

  • List yourself first on the return; the tax law does not require any special order, such as a male spouse listed before a female spouse.
  • Change your EFTPS.gov account to reflect the Social Security number of the first spouse listed on the return, even if this spouse is not the one earning the income or paying the estimated taxes.
  • Continue to pay estimated taxes under your Social Security number but ask the IRS to credit your payments to your spouse’s Social Security number; do this before you file your income tax return.

Conclusion

Your best strategy for avoiding estimated tax problems is to work with a knowledgeable tax advisor who can help you craft appropriate installments and ways to handle them.

About the Author:

BarbaraWeltman
Barbara Weltman

Guest Blogger

Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes, J.K. Lasser's Guide to Self-Employment, and Smooth Failing as well as a trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® and host of Build Your Business Radio. She has been included in the List of 100 Small Business Influencers for three years in a row. Follow her on Twitter: @BigIdeas4SB or at www.BigIdeasforSmallBusiness.com

Which Unsecured Business Lines of Credit are Best for Your Business?

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: May 21, 2014

Whether you’ve been in business for a couple of weeks or five years, access to cash is a crucial element of survival for a business. When the going gets tough, a business can fail unless it has access to cash on demand.

For business owners, getting unsecured business lines of credit is by far the best choice for having that cash on demand. The fact is that business owners want access to funds – whenever they need it, at a competitive rate and with flexible payment options. The National Federation of Independent Businesses says, “Think of it as an insurance policy that never needs to be paid until you need it.”

It’s important to note there are two main types of unsecured business lines of credit one needs to consider: traditional and non-traditional.

So how do you determine which one is best for your business?

The traditional business line of credit issued by a bank calls for a substantial amount of documentation in order to qualify such as financials, personal tax returns, business tax returns, bank account information, business registration documents, etc.

In addition, once a line is issued an annual financial review is required to maintain the line of credit. While a traditional credit line offers various benefits such as check-writing privileges, it tends to be the most difficult line of credit to obtain and maintain.

In a recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association, “29 percent of small business owners report having their lines of credit reduced in the last four years and nearly 1 in 10 had their line of credit called in early by the bank.”

In my opinion, a non-traditional line of credit in the form of business credit cards are the best unsecured business lines of credit a company can get. It provides the fast access to cash and payment flexibility associated with a traditional credit line but without all the drawbacks.

Qualifying for this type of revolving credit line is FICO® driven and doesn’t require the yearly reviews, excessive documentation and level of scrutiny that comes with a traditional credit line.

Some of the advantages of non-traditional business lines of credit are as follows:

1) Access to cash quickly – With unsecured business credit cards, you can utilize as much or as little credit from your line as you want to, anytime and anywhere

2) High credit limits – Business credit cards carry high credit limits, making it extremely convenient to finance larger business purchases. Many cards even offer 0% APR for the first 12 months.

2) Flexibility – With business credit cards you have flexible payment options compared to a fixed month-to-month payment that comes with a business loan. When you tap into your credit line, you have three options every month. You could pay the full amount due, pay at least a minimal portion of the balance or pay greater than the minimum amount due.

3) True separation – Business credit cards enable business owners to separate personal and business expenses while benefiting from business credit reporting. This makes it possible for business owners to establish the creditworthiness of the business itself.

4) Personal credit protection – Small business credit cards that report solely to the business credit agencies allow business owners to protect their personal credit ratings while building their business credit.

While a non-traditional business credit line provides all the convenience and flexibility a business needs, there are some negative aspects to consider. The major drawback is the ability for a business to accumulate debt. Without a fixed payment schedule, business owners may be tempted to simply pay the minimum monthly payment on its outstanding balances. By carrying debt, compound interest can really add up, especially if a company carries large balances.

No matter what type of unsecured business lines of credit you decide to obtain for your business, it’s crucial to manage any debt responsibly. Traditional and non-traditional business lines of credit are essential tools for any business to have in its financial arsenal.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

Three Popular Start-Up Financing Options

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: May 21, 2014

Thinking about starting a business? Recent studies and reports have shown that entrepreneurs are more optimistic than in recent years when it comes to the state of their businesses this year, and that’s great news! But always high on the list of concerns for starting a business – even in optimistic times – is financing. Here’s a roundup of some ways, aside from avenues such as SBA-backed loans, to finance your business.

Credit Cards

According to expert Marco Carbajo, credit cards are a major source of financing for small business owners, with statistics even showing that more than 65% of small businesses using them on a frequent basis. It’s a popular approach, but you should be sure to do your research to determine if it’s the right one for you. Here are some tips from Entrepreneur.com to help:

  • Unless your business is incorporated – so if yours is a sole proprietorship, for instance – you are guarantor of all debts. So if your sales are slow and you fall behind on payments, you risk your personal credit rating and ability to borrow.
  • It varies by state, but your credit-card issuer might still require that shareholders with significant ownership guarantee the line of credit – even if your business is incorporated.
  • Potentially bringing on partners? Make sure your agreement states that they’ll accept personal guarantees on all existing business debt. You need to address this specifically because in many states, new partners aren't automatically responsible for previous debts.
  • Read the fine print. Don’t accept an offer without checking into the details, understanding the terms of use and evaluating risks. Don’t hesitate to ask a professional for guidance.

Friends and Family

Asking friends and family to borrow funds to help finance your business sounds like it could get awkward, but it doesn’t have to. Treat the process just as professionally as you would an engagement with a bank. If you done right, you can potentially gain quicker access to the cash you need and jump through fewer hoops – after all, your friends or family already know you. Read more about borrowing from friends and family in our article here, but think about these highlights as you consider this option:

  • Think carefully about who you’ll approach and make sure they understand the risks (and rewards) of getting involved. Keep in mind if your business doesn’t work out and you can’t repay your obligations, relationships could suffer.
  • Be realistic about how much money you need. Instead of asking for the maximum, consider what you need to get you to a certain point in your business plan. Once you show you can repay that initial investment, you’ll be in a better position to ask for more money if you need it.
  • Write it down. You might think a verbal agreement with your friend or relative is sufficient given the personal relationship, but this is business. Consider this advice from Entrepreneur.com: "Any time you take money into a business, the law is very explicit: You must have all agreements written down and documented. If you don't, emotional and legal difficulties could result that end up in court. And if the loan isn't documented, you may find yourself with no legal recourse.”
  • Communicate. Show your business progress and share updates along the way, even if it’s correcting mistakes you’ve made with your business strategy. Checking in and sharing information shows that you’re taking seriously the role others are playing in your venture and demonstrates professionalism.

Crowdfunding

Increasingly, crowdfunding is becoming a popular way for people to get startup financing for their businesses. You’ve probably heard of Kickstarter campaigns – that’s crowdfunding. It works through a collective cooperation of people who network and pool their money and resources together, usually online, to support efforts initiated by others. So it gathers multiple, smaller investments as opposed to a single source of funding. You can read more about the details here, but here are three other key considerations from Entrepreneur.com:

  • You should begin working on your crowdfunding campaign six months before you want to launch your project. When your campaign starts, you should’ve already made a significant effort in letting people know about it collecting email addresses so you can really hit the ground running when you open the gates for your campaign.
  • Set your funding goal as low as you can manage because some crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter, are “all or nothing.” For instance, if you set a goal of $1,000 and you meet it, then you get the money. If you raise only $500, you won’t get anything. Read the fine print about the platform you choose so you can be strategic about your funding request.
  • Don’t forget to award your donors. You’re asking people to take a risk on your business venture – there are no guarantees. So thank them and show your appreciation by offering your product or service at a discount when the time comes.

You can also learn more from our online Learning Center course, “Introduction to Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.”

Beyond a “traditional” track of securing a loan from a bank, there are quite a few avenues to consider for financing your business. And with passion, professionalism and planning, you’ll establish a good foundation for success down any of these paths.

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

Investigating Feel-Good Franchises

By FranchiseKing, Guest Blogger
Published: May 20, 2014

We all want to feel good. We all want to have pleasant experiences. And, we’re willing to pay for them. We’re willing to pay to ensure we get our fair share of the good things in life.

If you’re looking to become a franchise owner, have you thought about targeting opportunities that provide feel-good products and services?

Feel-Good Franchise Opportunities

Opportunities that make people feel good run the gamut from franchises in the spa industry to franchises that promote fitness.

Here are some examples of franchises in the spa category:

·        Massage Heights

·        Massage Envy

·        Hand And Stone Massage

·        The Woodhouse Day Spa    

·        Seva®

·        Planet Beach Automated Spa

Credit must go to the people at Massage Envy for putting spa franchises on the map. In addition to helping energize a not often-mentioned franchise category, the executives at Massage Envy came up with a membership model. For a set monthly price, clients are entitled to receive one massage and can purchase additional ones at discounted prices.

Read this from the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals website:*

After 30 years in the fitness industry, John Leonesio saw the opportunity massage offered and in 2002 designed the Massage Envy concept in Scottsdale, Arizona, to resemble the health club membership model. Now owned by Sentinel Capital, a middle-market private equity firm, Massage Envy’s original concept—to make the health benefits of massage both convenient and affordable—remains and has earned the company several distinctions

Fitness Franchise Examples

Fitness franchises have been around a long time. Jack LaLanne, considered to be the “Father of Fitness,” opened what is thought to be the nation’s first health club in Oakland, California in 1936.

Today, people want to get in shape and stay in shape, but there’s a big difference between doing so in the 1930’s and now.

That difference is time. We just don’t have as much time to get physically fit as we used too. We have too many constraints…time constraints. We’re all busy, busy. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to go to a fitness club and work out on a regular basis.   

A few entrepreneurs – innovators, really – have been able to capitalize on the problem…the issue of not having a lot of time to get in shape and stay in shape.

Chuck Runyon, Dave Mortensen, and Jeff Klinger founded Anytime Fitness* in 2002. They realized that consumers were starved for time and were having problems finding fitness clubs that were open when they needed them to be. Anytime Fitness was born, and they, along with several others in the space, have been able to serve those clients, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Below, you’ll find several fitness franchises to investigate if you’re interested in these types of feel-good franchises.

·        Snap Fitness

·        Koko FitClub

·        Title Boxing Club

·        FitZone® For Women

·        Fitness Together

·        The Zoo Health Club

Feeling Good About Feel-Good Franchises

A lot of the people I work with share their desire to provide products and services that bring positive change to people’s lives.

Franchises that make people feel good provide positive things that today’s busy consumers want.

If you’d like to own a franchise that makes people feel good, you have lots of choices. Narrowing those choices involves serious research. Thoroughly investigate franchises you’re interested in. Talk to existing franchisees. They’re the ones who have already invested their money and their time into the franchises you’re thinking of buying. That way you’ll feel good about what you may end up doing.

Here are a few articles which include dozens of tips designed to help you do great franchise research.

Entrepreneur Magazine: Researching Franchises*

SBA.gov: Researching That Franchise

Franchise.org: How To Investigate A Franchise*

*Non-US Government links

 

About the Author:

FranchiseKing
Joel Libava

Guest Blogger

The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, is the author of Become a Franchise Owner! and recently launched Franchise Business University.

From Boise to Moscow: The STEP Program Builds Bridges of Success throughout the World

Published: May 19, 2014 Updated: July 20, 2016

Addressing the criticality of U.S. exports, President Obama said, "The global economy is more integrated than ever... If we're going to grow, it's going to be because of exports." As the world's economic landscape expands at an unprecedented rate and burgeoning foreign markets seek U.S. products and services, it is vital that American small businesses recognize and leverage the endless export opportunities around the world.

Simply put, exports fuel our economy. Since 2009:

  • exports have driven nearly half of the economic growth and account for nearly 14 percent of the U.S. economy
  • U.S. businesses are able to grow faster, hire more employees, pay higher wages, and help spread American ideas, innovation and values.

Unfortunately, only a small fraction of U.S. businesses currently export and 58 percent of those businesses only export to one country. In response to this missed opportunity, the President established the National Export Initiative (NEI) to promote U.S. exports and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 established the pilot State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program to provide effective opportunities to increase the number of small business exporters and increase their exports. The U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of International Trade (OIT) has just launched the third year of this pilot program.

The OIT's has produced significant results. In November 2013, the Governor of Idaho, along with representatives from 17 Idaho businesses, over half of which were small businesses, flew to the Russian Federation. Governor "Butch" Otter and his peers arrived in Moscow for a nine-day trade mission involving a variety of industries including potato machinery and storage equipment, animal feed, peas/lentils/chickpeas, live cattle, timber and international education.

The Governor and his fellow Idahoans journeyed halfway around the world in pursuit of the abundant economic opportunities offered in the former Soviet Union. The Russian Federation has the world's 11th largest economy, and, with over 140 million consumers, Russia continues to be one of the most promising markets for U.S. exporters. In fact, Russia is one of Idaho's top ten export markets for agricultural products. Idaho has experienced the appreciable benefits of expanding exports outside of our nation's borders. In 2012, Idaho exported $21 million worth of goods to Russia, up 17 percent from the previous year.

Opportunities for small businesses to establish or to bolster export partnerships, such as the Idaho Trade Mission, are made possible through grants funded by the STEP Program. This Program can award grants to the 50 states, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands for increasing the number of small business exporters and their export sales.

In 2014, the STEP Program will award $8 million to:

  • advance small business participation in foreign trade missions and market sales trips
  • subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce
  • design of international marketing products and campaigns
  • representation at export trade show exhibits
  • export related training, and other endeavors aligned with the STEP Program goals.

The STEP grant award amounts vary based on an awardee's approved project plan and budget. The results of these investments are substantial in a world that is becoming more and more interconnected. The state recipients of the STEP Program's second year awards reported a return on Federal investment of over seventeen-to-one. Beginning its third year, the STEP Program will continue to actively foster export opportunities for small businesses by providing them with support to succeed in international exports.

Small businesses are a model for success in U.S. exports. In 2011, nearly 300,000 U.S. small businesses exported goods, accounting for 98 percent of all identified exporters. Sales of American products and services to those outside of our borders not only fuels the economy and creates jobs and higher wages in the United States, but it also builds bridges for the exchange of ideas, cultures, and values with other communities around the world.

SBA's STEP Program is instrumental in helping U.S. small businesses build their bridges of success throughout the world.

For more information on the STEP Program, visit https://www.sba.gov/content/state-trade-and-export-promotion-step-pilot-grant-initiative-cfda-59061-1

About the Author:

Luz Hopewell
Deputy Associate Administrator for International Trade

Free Trade Agreements: What You Should Know for Your Small Business Exports

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: May 19, 2014 Updated: September 26, 2016

Interested in exporting your small business’s goods or services outside the United States? Have you heard of free-trade agreements? Here’s what you should know about how they can benefit you in the exporting process.

What is a free-trade agreement?

A free-trade agreement, or FTA, is an agreement between two or more countries where the countries agree to take steps to make trade between the countries’ businesses easier and faster.  FTAs reduce trade tariffs and non-tariff barriers, such as import quotas, and also cover protections for investors and intellectual property rights.

For the United States, the main goals of trade agreements are to:

  • Reduce barriers to U.S. exports
  • Protect U.S. interests competing abroad
  • Enhance the rule of law in the FTA partner country or countries

Ultimately, it’s easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export to these trading partner markets, because  FTAs help create a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment, which reduces risks for you as a small-business exporter.

With which countries does the U.S. have an FTA?

As of January 1, 2014, the United States has 14 FTAs in force with 20 countries:

  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • DR-CAFTA: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, & Nicaragua
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Korea
  • Morocco
  • NAFTA: Canada & Mexico
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Singapore

Other benefits of FTAs

Some other kinds of benefits often found in FTAs are:

  • The ability for a U.S. company to bid on certain government contracting opportunities in the FTA partner country
  • The ability for a U.S. investor to get prompt, adequate and effective compensation if its investment in the FTA partner country is taken away by the government
  • The ability for U.S. service suppliers to supply their services in the FTA partner country
  • Protection and enforcement of American-owned intellectual property rights in the FTA partner country
  • The ability for U.S. exporters to participate in the development of product standards in the FTA partner country

Learn more at Export.gov and find out what else you should know about exporting by exploring the resources below!

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

Pages

Subscribe to The U.S. Small Business Administration | SBA.gov RSS